Kristin McWharter

Prime
2017

Kristin McWharter with performance assistance from Robben Muñoz

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Priming is a process by which participants are repeatedly exposed to a stimulus such that their later behavior and cognitive response is influenced. The effects of priming can be deeply penetrating and are often utilized in social psychology research. The exhibition Prime is inspired specifically by the research of Adam D. Galinsky, whose research paper Power and Perspectives Not Taken demonstrated compelling evidence that our capacity for empathy or perspective sharing can be strongly influenced by a simple prime for power. The exhibition showcases a series of small performances and participations that investigate the influence of such a prime. Two performers walk along a line. At either end of this line they answer a simple question:

Describe a time when you had control over someone.
Or
Describe a time when someone had control over you?

The performers then proceed to walk back and forth between the two questions. With each pass they must negotiate how to cross over each other without stepping off the line.
Do these primes influence their behavior? Can these primes influence form? Do these primes influence an audience?